When the Band of Horses/My Morning Jacket show at Starlight was announced in the spring, I assumed it would be a sure-fire sellout. Both acts have a reputation for impressive live outings and pretty huge fanbases. So it was a bit of a surprise to see a partition set up in the center of the venue last night, blocking off thousands of seats in an attempt to make the venue seem cozier. I guess I forgot that Starlight can seat nearly 8,000 people. And even at the level these bands are at, that many tickets at $50 a pop is still a tall order. But no matter: the few thousand people who did shell out for the tickets got their fifty bucks' worth. With the three bands on the ticket (Blind Pilot was added after the show was announced), we got nearly five hours of excellent music and decent weather on a Monday night.
Some mix-ups with starting times prevented me from catching Blind Pilot, but I was able to see the majority of Band of Horses’ hourlong set, which mixed an opening cover with material from each of the band's four albums. Interestingly, while Infinite Arms is the band’s best-selling album, the warmest reception came for its older material — songs like “Funeral” and “Great Salt Lake.” The crowd was exceptionally mellow, rising to its feet to applaud at the end of songs, but remaining seated for the majority of the set. “It’s a dream come true,” said singer Ben Bridwell, of playing with My Morning Jacket, “one more and we’re outta here.” They closed big with radio hit “Is there a Ghost.”
My Morning Jacket, running a tight ship, began promptly at 9:30, with slow burn, “Cobra.” James Olliges (better known as Jim James) walked out or, rather, strutted out, wearing brown-leather boots, brown slacks and a black shirt with his sleeves pushed back. Oh, and yes — he was wearing a royal-blue (wool?) cape, with orange and red piping. The cape sounds ridiculous, and it is a bit, but rather than clownish, James looks every bit like a damn rock star — like a devil-may-care 1970s guitar-god rock star. Which is basically what he is. And that hair — as the songs built up, he whipped his hair around like it was an instrument.
Fans of MMJ are accustomed to the long sets — for me, it’s a surprise when anybody plays for much longer than an hour, but James and company kept it going until nearly midnight, mixing in cuts from each of their records to the delight of the audience. (I saw at least one fan crying from happiness. Or drugs, I don’t know. Those long, sludgy, huge, dense guitar solos can really get you moving, or move you, apparently.) My personal highlight of the show was seeing James pull a Sigur-Ros-ish type of move during “Circuital,” in which he played one guitar with the neck of another, holding the base of his Flying V in his hands and moving the strings against each other. The effect was screechy, eerie and great.
“KC, you make us so proud! On a Monday night!” James said as the electronic bleeps of encore "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2" faded out. “You’re beautiful.” Then he danced across the stage like a goofball and slapped high-fives with his band and retreated back into the darkness.